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Ofcom: 4G will offer 230% more capacity than 3G

New mobile technologies expected to be rolled out on 2013

Next generation 4G mobile networks will offer 230 percent more capacity that today's 3G networks says Ofcom.

According to Ofcom's chief technology officer, Dr Stephen Unger, who conducted research into the efficiency of the service, the increase in capacity will come despite using the same amount of spectrum that existing 3G networks utilise.

4G mobile technologies, such as Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, are expected to be rolled out from 2013 and will utilise the 800MHz and 2.6GHz radio spectrums that are currently used for terrestrial TV broadcasts. However, the digital switchover means they spectrums can now be assigned for mobile broadband use. It's thought speeds of 'up to' 100Mbps will be achieved over LTE services

Ofcom said the increased capacity is "essential in meeting the UK's rapid increase in mobile traffic, fuelled by the growth of smartphones and mobile broadband data services such as video streaming, email, messenger services, mapping services and social networking".

"To put this in context, a user on an early 4G network will be able to download a video in around a third of the time it takes today on a 3G network," said Unger.

Furthermore, he believes that by 2020, 4G networks will be 450 percent more efficient than today's existing 3G networks.

Stephen Rayment, CTO at networking specialist BelAir Networks said Ofcom's research was "welcome news for consumers and operators alike".

"Anyone who has tried to download a video or even an email on 3G will know that the technology is not designed for the demands of mobile data usage today," he said.

"As Ofcom points out though, 4G alone will not be enough to solve the capacity drought we are faced with. It suggests more spectrum and the use of small cells are the way forward."

Rayment suggested unlicensed spectrum in the form of Carrier grade Wi-Fi could also be integrated into operators' mobile data network strategies to meet data demands.

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